Merseyside’s three Mothercare stores to close in the coming weeks

Retail chain has now collapsed into administration and will shut its entire 79-strong UK retail network with the loss of 2,485 jobs. Tony McDonough reports

Mothercare
Mothercare’s outlet at the Croft Retail Park in Wirral

 

Liverpool city region’s three Mothercare stores are to shut with the potential loss of hundreds of jobs.

On Tuesday, the stricken retailer called in administrators PricewaterhouseCoopers and this was followed by an announcement that all 79 of its UK outlets would be closing over the coming weeks.

Mothercare said on Monday that it intended to put the business into administration in a move affecting staff at stores at Aintree Racecourse Retail Park, the Croft Retail Park in Bromborough and the Cables Retail Park in Prescot. There are also Mothercare stores in Chester and Warrington.

Zelf Hussain, joint administrator and PwC partner, said 2,485 retail jobs would go, including 384 head office and distribution roles. He added: “This is a sad moment for a well-known high street name. No one is immune from the challenging conditions faced by the UK retail sector.

“Like many other retailers, Mothercare has been hit hard by increasing cost pressures and changes in consumer spending. It’s with real regret that we have to implement a phased closure of all UK stores. Our focus will be to help employees and keep the stores trading for as long as possible.”

Mothercare is the latest in a string of household retail names to fall victim to the seismic change in the way people shop in the UK with online retailers having grabbed a huge market share.

Bricks and mortar retailers with their bigger overheads such as expensive high street rents and crippling business rates, as well as falling consumer confidence since the financial crash, have struggled to compete and remain profitable.

In 2008 Mothercare operated more than 400 UK stores but by 2017 this had fallen to 152. Signs of real trouble became all too clear in May 2018 when the business was forced into a company voluntary arrangement, a voluntary arrangement that allows a company to reach an agreement with creditors such as landlords. This led to the closure of a further 55 stores.

Mothercare said it had enough cash to keep the remaining international business open and said it was talking to potential partners to maintain a UK presence by selling its brand via other retailers.

Clive Whiley, chairman of Mothercare, added: “The UK high street is facing a near existential problem with intensifying and compounding pressures across numerous fronts, most notably the high levels of rent and rates and the continuing shifts in consumer behaviour from high street to online.”

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